A lot of people get married for selfish reasons. They want to be free from their parents, ease loneliness, have sex, show that they’re adults, save or help someone else, attain citizenship, and/or have a baby. They also might get married because all their friends are married, or they feel like they’re running out of time.
But all of these reasons are WRONG!
You should get married because you have a deep admiration and respect for someone else, and you are willing to help fulfill his or her needs and dreams. You should get married when you’ve learned enough about a person and his or her family to know that he or she is emotionally and psychologically healthy, and you really want to share your lives together. When you get up in the morning, you should look at your spouse and think, “What can I do to make him or her happy today and glad he or she is married to me? How can I make him or her glad to come home to me tonight?” There’d be a lot more happy people if all we did that.
This is why good marriage counselors don’t start off with the problems and the things your spouse does that make you mad. Instead they ask, “What was there that made you fall in love? What was there about each other that you admired, respected, and enjoyed? What kept you together long enough to get married?”
And then there’s the whole commitment thing.
What’s the point of a commitment you might ask? Isn’t it just a piece of paper?
The answer is no. Love without commitment is not enough to maintain a relationship. In the beginning, rules about commitment are not an issue because the two of you are so overwhelmed by emotion. But when you start having ups and downs and challenges, and you’ve both gotten a little lazy about being loving and supportive, the rules and expectations start coming into play. When you guys forget your vows and promises to each other, everything else loses meaning.
And that’s why marriage is important. It’s the expression of commitment and devotion in public with promises.
Married people also eat better, take better care of themselves, and have more stable, secure, and scheduled lifestyles than unmarried ones. Read more about how marriage positively affects your physical and mental health.
And here’s an email Fiona sent me about the benefits of being married. I chose it because she added a dimension I hadn’t heard put quite that way.
Hi Dr. Laura,
There are so many wonderful things about being married. I would like to touch on two that I think are the most meaningful to me.
1. It is nice to know there is someone in life who is “for” you. I am for him and he is for me. My husband and I are each other’s cheerleaders. “Rah Rah!, I’m rooting for you Baby…and thanks for rooting for me too!” If someone asked me for advice on marriage, I would tell them to make sure you are both FOR each other. It’s really an easy way to choose wisely. If that quality isn’t present, you are not a match.
2. The second thing is this: we are there to be a witness to each other’s lives. We know each other’s dreams, accomplishments, failures, mistakes, heartaches, triumphs, tragedies, and ecstasies. We know what is important to each other and what we both believe and what our values are. We can say, “Yes, they were here, this is who they were, this is what they did, and this is what meant enough to them to fight for.” I was a witness, I was there.